OT: Wreckage of USS Lexington Located in Coral Sea

Submitted by redwhiteandMGOBLUE on March 6th, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Nearly 76 years after crippling damage sustained during the Battle of the Coral Sea the wreckage of the "Lady Lex" has been discovered by Paul Allen and the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel on March 4.

The Lexington was found 3,000 meters (about two miles) below the surface, resting on the floor of the Coral Sea more than 500 miles off the eastern coast of Australia.


The USS Lexington was originally commissioned as a battlecruiser but was launched as an aircraft carrier in 1925. She took part in the Battle of the Coral Sea (May 4-8, 1942) along with the USS Yorktown against three Japanese carriers. This was the first carrier versus carrier battle in history and was the first time Japanese forces suffered a permanent setback in its advances on New Guinea and Australia. However, the U.S. lost the Lexington and 216 of its distinguished crew.

The Lexington had been hit by multiple torpedoes and bombs on May 8 but it was a secondary explosion causing uncontrolled fires that finally warranted the call to abandon ship. The USS Phelps delivered the final torpedoes that sank the crippled Lady Lex, the first aircraft carrier casualty in history. With other U.S. ships standing by, 2,770 crewmen and officers were rescued, including the captain and his dog Wags, the ships ever-present mascot.

The Battle of the Coral Sea was notable not only for stopping a Japanese advance but because it was the first naval engagement in history where opposing ships never came within sight of each other. This battle ushered in a new form of naval warfare via carrier-based airplanes. One month later, the U.S. Navy surprised Japanese forces at the Battle of Midway, and turned the tide of the war in the Pacific for good.




March 6th, 2018 at 1:05 PM ^



March 6th, 2018 at 1:46 PM ^


Capt. Sherman’s wife, Fanny Jessop Sherman, later wrote a children’s book about their dog. Admiral Wags of the U.S.S. Lexington was published in 1943. Admiral Wags died in 1949 at age 17.


Admiral Wags was a dog. Specifically, he was a black cocker spaniel who belonged to Sherman. Originally Admiral Wags belonged to Sherman’s son, but when the son went off to boarding school, Wags adopted Sherman as his new master. With two stars on his collar indicating his rank, “Admiral” Wags became Sherman’s constant companion, accompanying the naval officer on his shipboard tours of duty, including that on the Lexington. When the fighting started on May 8, Admiral Wags had gone to his station under the bunk in the admiral’s emergency cabin on the bridge.


With the battle over and the fight to save the ship lost, as the Lexington’s sailors were diving into the water or sliding down ropes to nearby ships, Sherman remembered Admiral Wags and rushed back to the bridge. The emergency cabin was filled with smoke and acid fumes and Sherman at first “feared that the dog had suffocated.” A quick search revealed that Admiral Wags had left his post. The captain found his admiral in another section of the bridge and their reunion was a happy one, though necessarily brief.


Tucking the cocker spaniel under his arm, Sherman returned to the flight deck. There he handed Admiral Wags to an orderly who strapped a life jacket on the dog and lowered him by lifeline to a destroyer. Some time later, after making sure that he was the last man on board, Captain Sherman hooked onto a lifeline and transferred to a waiting cruiser. The captain and his faithful admiral were reunited a few days later.


March 6th, 2018 at 1:34 PM ^

Upvote, but I was always kind of a Yorktown fan.  Took a bomb at Coral Sea and stayed afloat somehow, steamed out to help win Midway while literally still under repair, got bombed all to shit AGAIN, but STILL stayed afloat until a sub got finally got her on the way back to Hawaii.  She kept getting up off the matt when we were hanging on by a damn thread.

Sidenote: there was a guy who for years ran a hot dog stand in Grand Blanc.  I learned much later he won a commendation for shooting down a kamikaze, saving dozens of lives.  He was just the hot dog guy to me, but that generation (including my dad), like Yorktown, kept getting up off the matt.  God bless them.

Der Alte

March 6th, 2018 at 5:03 PM ^

Essex-class carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) was renamed in 1942 to honor the earlier USS Yorktown (CV-5) lost at Midway. The later Yorktown served until about 1970 when she was decommissioned and put on permanent display near Charleston, S.C. If you're ever in the area a tour is great way to spend a couple hours. Going below to the mess deck you pass the galley, where the ship's recipe for chocolate chip cookies is posted. The ingredient list begins with "500 eggs."


March 7th, 2018 at 11:53 AM ^

We spent Spring Break down in Charleston and spent a day at Patriot's Point and got to see Yorktown. It was an awesome experience, and we ended up spending the entire day there between Yorktown, Laffey, Clamagore, and their Vietnam War museum. Definitely worth a visit, especially wiht the new engine room exhibit on Yorktown as well as the incredibly powerful gun turret display and the "Cold War CIC Experience" on the Laffey.


I got a picture of the cookie recipe (which serves 10,000!). It was honestly too good to pass up on getting a picture of it.


March 6th, 2018 at 1:20 PM ^

Starring Henry Fonda as Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, there is a mention of the Battle of the Coral Sea and the loss of the Lexington near the beginning of the film. Nimitz is asked by Cmdr. Joseph Rochefort, played by Hal Holbrook, if the U.S. had suffered damage.

Nimitz replies, "Yeah, we got hurt."


March 6th, 2018 at 2:12 PM ^

i let the kids watch the second half of jaws the other day, including that scene (but not the scene where quint gets chowed).  

now time for the TV to go bye-bye until football season. 

Perkis-Size Me

March 6th, 2018 at 1:32 PM ^

Amazing that Paul Allen was able to accomplish this. Could've sworn I last heard about him getting an axe to the face from Patrick Bateman.

I'll show myself out....


March 6th, 2018 at 1:45 PM ^

I read that the Lexington had an ice cream maker, and some of the crew had time to eat as much ice cream as they could stuff into themselves before abandoning ship. That's the American spirit!


March 6th, 2018 at 5:15 PM ^

has never seen a foreign military intervention he didn't like. Trump's comment was characteristically low brow, but McCain's warmongering has been putting American servicemen and women in harm's way for too long.

Plenty of great Americans experienced bad things in WW2, Korea, Vietnam etc. without becoming neocon politicians eager to have more American kids experience those things.


March 6th, 2018 at 9:15 PM ^

Good job adhering to the "no politics" rule. Regardless of anyone's view of McCain's politics, there have been very few in DC that have a better appreciation about the risks of being in combat than he does.